Events over the past 48 hours have shown beyond a reasonable doubt that the US may have the most confused, conflicting foreign policy of any western nation, on one hand banging the populist drums and demanding loudly that Syria allow UN inspectors, while on the other demanding even louder that no inspectors be allowed because they won't find anything. And while the US population has already spoken, with those who are against a US intervention outnumbering the false flag warmongers by a ratio of over 6 to 1, it is the market that is speaking even louder following the start of premarket trading on Sunday night with both key hard assets, gold and crude, spiking in early trading.
Perhaps in an effort to numb themselves of the daily grind of a delusional dictator amid widespread starvation, North Koreans have turned en masse to the 'bingdu' or ice. As the WSJ notes, a study in the Spring of 2013 found that "Almost every adult in that area (of North Korea) has experienced using ice and not just once," and the author noted that "at least 40% to 50% are seriously addicted to the drug." Unsurprisingly for the closed nation, there is no official data, but as poppy fields disappeared in the nation, meth dealers were quick to step in and 'Heisenberg' the people's needs. Now "doing ice is a social thing; it is a lot of fun," as the 'epidemic' has spread from mid-ranking officials and police officers in 2004-2008 to the general population of students and youth now.
As Western economies start to regress in earnest following decades of failed and destructive monetary inflation and debt accumulation, yield-starved investors are allocating real capital to the one industrially untapped continent in the world: Africa. However, we’re not seeing industry moving to Africa to set up shop. Rather, politically-directed capital flowing into the African resources sector is fueling and financing the strongest consumer boom in the world. It’s a vendor financing model for Asia, and it portends a major boom and bust cycle for the African continental economy.
In September 2010, Guido Mantega coined the phrase "currency war" as he proclaimed the world's central bank's FX interventions were dangerous for citizens' purchasing power and would lead to a vicious circle of competitive devaluations. In March, Mantega unleashed a mini-war by taxing foreign borrowings and threatening capital controls. But this week, after the BRL devalued over 26% since March as Fed Taper talk and EM capital flight takes hold around the world, Brazil has waded into the world's currency war with the largest currency intervention the nation has ever planned. Following a dismal current account deficit print, as The FT reports, "Brazil will launch a currency intervention program worth about $60bn to ensure liquidity and reduce volatility in the nation’s foreign exchange market" - offering USD500 million per day in currency swaps to support the Real. But, as Citi warns, it does not fix any of Brzail's problems.
It’s ironic, or it seems that way to us, that two of the least understood financial markets by equity investors are two of the most systemically important – repos and gold. Even more ironic is how so many investors don’t even consider them to be all that important. In our view, stability in both markets is a pre-requisite for maintaining confidence in the financial system and keeping the credit/asset bubble inflated. The significance of these markets is not lost on governments, central banks and regulators, although the definition of “stability” in each of them is slightly different. Looking underneath the bonnet/hood, we are doubtful that either of these markets, repos or gold, can reasonably be described as “stable” right now. There also seems to be a paradox where the current low repo rates and gold prices are, we suspect, fooling people into a false sense of complacency. What’s really piqued our interest, however, is whether there is a similar issue which is increasingly impacting both of these systemically important markets? This issue relates to the availability of sufficient collateral...
The twenty-first-century economy has thus far been shaped by capital flows from China to the United States – a pattern that has suppressed global interest rates, helped to reflate the developed world’s leverage bubble, and, through its impact on the currency market, fueled China’s meteoric rise. But these were no ordinary capital flows. Over the last decade, the vast quantities of short-term capital that were being pumped into China’s banking system drove commercial banks and other financial institutions to expand credit substantially, especially through the shadow-banking system, leading to a massive credit bubble and severe over-investment. Given this, in the event of a crisis, China would most likely have to begin selling off its massive store of US debt - and indeed it is. After spending years attempting to insulate the US economy from the upshot of its own banking crisis, the Fed may ultimately be forced to bail out China’s banks, too.
If Obama was betting on a "rally 'round the flag" effect ahead of the US attack of Syria as a result on an endless chain of false flag-based interventions in the middle east which started with Colin Powell's lies to the UN, and has never ended, he appears to have completed his latest epic foreign policy blunder and miscalculation. As Reuters reports, Americans strongly oppose U.S. intervention in Syria's civil war and believe Washington should stay out of the conflict even if reports that Syria's government used deadly chemicals to attack civilians are confirmed, a Reuters/Ipsos poll says. About 60 percent of Americans surveyed said the United States should not intervene in Syria's civil war, while just 9 percent thought President Barack Obama should act.
Iran is backing Assad. Gulf states are against Assad! Assad is against Muslim Brotherhood. Muslim Brotherhood and Obama are against General Sisi. But Gulf states are pro Sisi! Which means they are against Muslim Brotherhood! Iran is pro Hamas, but Hamas is backing Muslim Brotherhood! Obama is backing Muslim Brotherhood, yet Hamas is against the US! Gulf states are pro US. But Turkey is with Gulf states against Assad; yet Turkey is pro Muslim Brotherhood against General Sisi. And General Sisi is being backed by the Gulf states!
Moments ago, Syria relented to the main gating condition that would prevent an all out escalation, and as Russia urged it to, has permitted an inspection of last Wednesday's alleged chemical weapons attack by UN inspectors. The WSJ reports that "Syria would allow United Nations inspectors currently present in Damascus immediate access to areas around the capital where the opposition accused the regime of using chemical weapons against fighters and civilians five days ago. A presenter on Syrian state television reading a statement attributed to an unnamed official at the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the agreement was reached after a meeting between Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem and Angela Kane, the U.N. disarmament chief, who arrived in Damascus on Saturday." Of course, since demand for said inspection was just a strawman as the last time the UN inspected a "certain" chemical weapons attack by Assad it found "rebels may have used sarin" instead, and the US was absolutely certain Syria would not relent to an inspection thus allowing a full scale military attack, the US is now downplaying compliance with this key demand, by saying it is too little too late.
Putin Responds To Syria Escalation: May "Reinforce Naval Grouping In Mediterranean" Following US BuildupSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 08/24/2013 13:08 -0400
— Interfax News (IFAX) (@IFAXnews) August 24, 2013
While central planning has seemingly achieved its goal, they have merely created another bubble. A bubble in which fundamentals will have their day and a completely unsustainable societal situation has emerged. Rising rents and falling incomes. For example, in Minnesota we find that “since 2000, rents have risen about 6 percent statewide, but renter incomes have dropped about 17 percent.”
The new American Dream is to one day be able to move out of your parent's basement and rent from Blackstone.
— Michael Krieger (@LibertyBlitz) August 22, 2013
While the United States is repositioning its naval forces in the Mediterranean as it considers a possible military response to recent developments in Syria (as reported and shown yesterday), at least two other nations are joining in preparation for a naval offensive against the Middle Eastern nation.
As rising Taper (and QE unwind) uncertainty, the biggest trade driving the rate complex, and by implication, the entire risk complex, is being put (no pun intended) to rest. As BofA explains: "the FOMC (the biggest buyer of duration and convexity risk in the world) is long the option to taper asset purchases (and eventually raise rates) if the data improves. That leaves the market short the option that the Fed may decide to taper. The market has looked to hedge this “short gamma” exposure by selling duration and buying vol."
For roughly forty years (since the report was published in 1972), technology has pulled one magic rabbit after another out of the hat, making a mockery of the claims that there were limits on consumption and resource extraction: the green revolution and fossil-fuel fertilizers expanded food production, new supergiant oil fields and improved drilling technologies opened up vast new energy reserves, and improved technologies led to more efficient use of resources. The success of the past four decades in pushing back looming limits has created a widespread confidence that technology can solve any apparent limits. For example, if the seas have been stripped of fish, then aquaculture will fill the desire for fresh fish. Presto-magico. But what if the technological improvements are entering a terminal phase of diminishing returns? What if the "solutions" don't really replace what has been destroyed? For example, the ecology of the open ocean is not restored by aquaculture; rather, it is further harmed by poor aquaculture practices.